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Assessing the Four Elements of Personal Injury Claim

By July 20, 2016January 9th, 2019Personal Injury

St. Louis Area Personal Injury Lawyer

If you were injured and plan to file a personal injury lawsuit, then you will need to understand negligence and how negligence affects your claim. Not all injuries result in a personal injury claim – and often, claims are rejected because they do not meet the four elements required for a successful case. If you have been injured, then you need to assess the four elements with an attorney to determine if you have a valid claim, and also to help determine the likelihood that your claim will win in court.

What are the Four Elements?

In order to win a negligence-based claim, you will need to prove that these four elements are present:

  1. Duty
  2. Breach
  3. Causation
  4. Damages


The first step of assessing your personal injury claim is looking to see if there was a duty owed to you by the defendant. This duty can also stem from a professional relationship – such as the duty that a doctor owes his or her patient. Duty will depend on the situation, but there is often a form of care that the defendant owes you. For example, if you were involved in an accident and the driver who caused the accident was texting, the defendant owed you a duty to act reasonably behind the wheel – and texting while driving is not reasonable, nor cautious.

Breach of Duty

Once you have established that a duty of care was owed to you, next, you must prove that the defendant breached that duty. Basically, you must establish that he or she acted in a way in which a reasonable individual would not. For example, if a reasonable person would not have been texting while driving – because it is against the law, and is irresponsible. Since the defendant texted while driving, he or she has breached the duty owed to you and other drivers on the road. Also, if you can establish that the defendant knew that his or her actions were dangerous, or that the actions would have resulted in an injury, then you can establish negligence.


This refers to how the negligent acts of the defendant led to your injuries. While someone acted negligently, you must prove that these actions were the reason why you were injured. If the texting driver had nothing to do with your accident, then you do not have a claim against him or her, or these actions.

Causation also looks at whether the defendant would have foreseen these actions leading to an injury. If his or her actions caused injury through a random, unforeseeable event, then he or she is not going to be found negligent in court.


Lastly, you must establish that the injury led to damages. That gives the court something to compensate you for. If you have no damages, then there is little that the court can do to help. For example, if your car accident with the texting driver left you out of work for several weeks, and you had to go through multiple medical treatments to recover, then these are examples of damages that the court can force the defendant to compensate you for. Usually, damages encompass things like property damage, medical costs (including future medical costs associated with your injury), lost wages, pain and suffering, etc.

Were You Injured in an Accident? Contact a Personal Injury Attorney

Assessing the four elements of personal injury is much more complex than it seems. That is why it is important that you speak with a personal injury attorney right after your accident. An attorney can help assess whether the four elements are present, and represent your claim in court. If you have been injured, contact Carey, Danis & Lowe Attorneys at Law for a free consultation. Call us now at 877-678-3400 or fill out our online contact form with your legal questions.